Combining creativity with the art of living

Yang Di
The city apartment fashion designer Helen Lee calls home is complemented by her collection of designer furniture, unique artwork and quirky curios.
Yang Di

The city apartment fashion designer Helen Lee calls home is complemented by her collection of designer furniture, unique artwork and quirky curios.

Lee, who had run her eponymous fashion label Helen Lee for six years, moved into her current high-rise apartment two years ago.

“I gave up the romance of living in old houses and decided to change to a modern living space. I had lived in different old places for the past 15 years from Art Deco apartments to lane houses but finally I found there were a few issues not easy to be solved: lack of privacy, too cold in the winter,” Lee said.

Her apartment is convenient, peaceful and well located. When she first came to visit the property, Lee liked the location and the city view as it put her at ease. Plus the all-white empty space so she could create the lived-in vibe she was after.

Combining creativity with the art of living
Dong Jun / SHINE

Eye-catching artworks are displayed above the living room couch. 

Inside this 140-square-meter one-bedroom apartment, her collections of furniture and ephemera are beautifully composed against a neutral backdrop of white walls and natural-colored floors. The backdrop enhances the sense of warmth and intimacy.

Lee, with exquisite taste and endless creative ideas, enjoys her art of living.

“My interior style changes and evolves over the time. When living in old houses, I preferred an East-meets-West look surrounded by many items and collectibles. At this stage, I started to realize “less is more.” My interior style is directed to a more minimal look accentuated by simple lines and square shapes. Also, I would like to create a more contemporary atmosphere with modern inspiration,” she said.

She put aside her classic furnishings and antique pieces but brought in modern designer chairs and lamps. During her spare time, Lee loves to visit art galleries, designer shops and anywhere related to beauty.

Combining creativity with the art of living
Dong Jun / SHINE

Around the dining table, Lee skillfully mixes different designer chairs to give a more personal look.

Around her dining table, Lee skillfully mixed in different designer chairs from Hay, Kartell to Magis to give an unexpected color combination. It makes the whole setting more personal and fun. In the center of the living area, on the low coffee table, limited editions of books on fashion and design are piled up next to collected curios.

Hues of green, grey and white dominate the space. “I started to integrate a lot of greens two years ago in both my fashion designs and interior spaces,” she said. Shades of green are also shown in many of her plant and flower arrangements, comprising a mixture of unusual shapes and colors, throughout the living space. “Flowers are a necessity in every room in the apartment. They instantly create a center of interest and enhance the vibe. I guess I’m also trying to make up for not being close to nature in an urban environment. I wanted to create green spaces where nature becomes part of my home,” Lee said.

“Moreover, I try to create a harmony of warm color schemes to give off a welcoming vibe. My interior has to be functional and stylish, A home must have art pieces and memorable items, as they always give a touch of style and emotion.”

Combining creativity with the art of living
Dong Jun / SHINE

Books in the subjects of fashion and design are piled up next to collected curios on low coffee table.

Most of the artworks were created by her Canadian artist husband Chris Rekrutiak, from thought-provoking digital collages to funky ceramic works made in porcelain capital Jingdezhen in Jiangxi Province. Displayed above the living room sofa, two of his digital collage works as part of an on-going series called the “Manus” are eye-catching and thought-provoking.

“Manus is Latin for hand. For me the hand is the part that makes us animal and sets us apart from animals. It is used to connect, pleasure, build and destroy. It has a complex and subtle language of its own,” Rekrutiak said.

In the bedroom, his other work “Medusa” perfectly fits the mood. “The medusa is an enduring symbol that has become the archetypal femme fatale: a conflation of femininity, erotic desire, violence and death. It is such a well-known symbol but we have forgotten the sad part to her story. Medusa is such a great anti-hero and her story is actually very human and tragic to me,” he said.

The bedroom is relaxing, like a cocoon to unwind. The color scheme here is predominately grey, pink and deep red. “With the Medusa next to the bed, the whole atmosphere is calming and romantic. I love to spend my morning time having coffee and reading on the small terrace connected to the bedroom.”

Combining creativity with the art of living
Dong Jun / SHINE

The master bedroom’s color scheme is predominately grey, pink and deep red. 

Ask The Owner

Q: What’s the best thing about living in Shanghai?

A: It’s multicultural vibe, convenience and familiarity.

Q: Describe your home in three words.

A: Homey. Authentic. Arty.

Q: What’s the first thing you do when you get home?

A: Light up the candles and water my plants and flowers.

Q: How do you unwind?

A: Reading with putting my music on, and cooking.

Q: Where do you spend most of your time at home?

A: On the couch.

Q: What’s the view outside your window?

A: The city skyline.

Q: What’s your favorite object in your home?

A: Ceramic works by my husband Chris.

Q: Where do you source furniture?

A: Designer furniture shops and custom-made designs by myself.

Combining creativity with the art of living
Dong Jun / SHINE

Helen Lee

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